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Disaster Management: House Seeks Volunteers For NEMA

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….Wants Refugee Camps For Victims
BEVERLY HILLS, CA, July 02, (THEWILL) - The House of Representatives Wednesday passed for second reading an amendment to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Act, 2004 to empower the agency to engage volunteers in the rescue and disaster management operations.

Leading debate on the bill, Onyewuchi explained that the bill seeks to strengthen disaster management mechanisms, adding that since the attacks by Boko Haram became pronounced, people are often ready to assist when they strike but such Nigerians lack the necessary skills to do so.

According to Onyewuchi, if volunteers are recruited and properly trained, they will complement the work of NEMA.

He said NEMA as presently constituted is only seen as a collector and distributor of relief materials, hence it is not in a position to prevent disaster.

The motion received unanimous adoption and was consequently passed for second reading and referred to the Committee on Disaster Preparedness.

The Bill titled 'a bill for an Act to amend the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Act. Cap N34 Laws of the federation of Nigeria 2004 to promote the recruitment, training and participation of volunteers in disaster management and for other related matters' is sponsored by Hon. Francis Onyewuchi (Imo).

In a related development, the House has asked the Border Area Development Commission and the National Refugees' Commission to establish camps for internally displaced people of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States who have been victims of Boko Haram attacks.

The House made the request upon adopting a motion brought by Hon. Abdulrahman Terab (APC, Borno).

Terab had in the motion noted that the destruction of lives and property in the three Northeast States due to ongoing insurgency had assumed an alarming level.

The lawmaker said the United Nations Office in Nigeria had recently reported that about six million people are directly affected by the crisis in the three states.

According to him, the number of towns and villages being deserted as a result of the attacks by terrorists and the subsequent displacement of the Nigerian citizens in these areas has been on the increase.

He however said statistics available to him indicate that the number of displaced persons was four million, saying “These internally displaced persons among whom are women and children and the vulnerable are lacking basic healthcare, sanitation, shelter and food.'

He added that 'Despite the vulnerability of the people around these three states, there is no official refugee camp to settle them, forcing them to squat in un-conducive environments.'

He further stressed that “Due to lack of data and necessary information about the displaced persons and the scale of the crises, the number of these people is growing daily and some of them even gave birth in open space or under trees, where they are currently being kept but no effort put in place for better health facility and accommodation.'

He added: “This has made them vulnerable to various hazards such as snakebites and other diseases such as cholera, diarrhea etc, more especially the children and women.”

While supporting the motion, Hon. Jerry Mamwe (PDP, Taraba) said had the agencies saddled with the responsibility of taking care of displaced persons been doing their job, such motion would not have arisen. Three other lawmakers spoke in favour of the motion.

Although, Hon. Bitrus Kaze (PDP, Plateau) opposed the motion, arguing that keeping displaced persons in camps would endanger their lives as insurgents always target crowded places, majority of the lawmakers supported it and the motion was passed.